You’ve probably had at least one vacation where your well-intentioned budget flew out the window and you quickly began to bleed money left and right. That clearly won’t work on every trip you take, especially if you’re a frequent traveler, so it’s important to know exactly how to count your pennies without sacrificing the fun of your vacation.
Figure Out How Much You’ll Need Per Day
Often, it’s not the plane tickets or hotel that break the bank since you know the costs of those things ahead of time. Instead, it’s the little things that get you: food, bus/train travel, and sightseeing fees. When you have an overall budget figured out, break it down into increments of three to four days and only carry enough cash to cover those days. Using cash instead of your credit card will help keep you from overspending. Since withdrawing cash in a country with a different currency can get costly quickly, use a major credit card with small international fees.
Balance Out the Extravagant
When you drop a few hundred dollars on something like a snorkeling excursion, make sure your next day or two are spent quietly. While it’s tempting to go all out every day of your trip, that will blow your budget in no time at all. Do your research ahead of time and figure out ways to spend your “cheap” days. Look to museums, hikes, or relaxing days on the beach to balance things out.
Skip the Tacky Souvenirs
Buying stuff at every street corner is a major culprit in overspending. While it’s fun to have various knick knacks from your travels, you have to decide if it’s worth it in the end. Are these items something that will last for many years to come or will they break within a few years of purchase? Instead, opt for buying one or two items of quality and don’t buy goodies for people unless they’ve asked for something specifically. Not only will you save yourself extra money on checking a heavier bag at the end of the trip, your souvenirs will mean more when they’re an item of substance and not a cheap piece of plastic.
Exchange Currency as Soon as You Can
Some places take advantage of tourists when it comes to exchanging your money for local currency. While you might think the fees are normal, they’re often not. Instead, find an ATM at the airport to exchange money. Money exchange “businesses” make their money by charging tourists exorbitant fees and give you horrible exchange rates.
Make Good Transportation Choices
Cabs are notoriously expensive, and that holds true for most every country in the world. Walk when you can, but for those times when you need some wheels, opt for public transportation. Ask locals for help navigating the bus routes or train schedule to avoid paying for extra stops you don’t need.
The better you budget on one trip, the more money you’ll have in the future to trot the globe again. Don’t let one vacation send you spiraling into debt. With savvy planning and careful money monitoring, your trip can stay on budget no matter where you go.